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LONDON’S FIRST CHARCOAL PIZZA AT PIZZICOTTO, KENSINGTON

Pizzicotto’s newly launched activated charcoal pizza, the smoking ‘Boccanegra’, is redefining Italian cuisine in London

Words: Madeleine Howell

Owner James Chiavarini is rightly proud of the menu at Pizzicotto, the sister restaurant to Il Portico – the family-run stalwart of High Street Ken which opened way back in 1967.

The dishes all feature produce from the family terra madre, Emilia Romagna, ranging from charcuterie and Chianina beef through to unfiltered beer. The flour itself is organic and sourced from a mill in the Apennine Mountains to create perfect handmade pastas and pizza bases.

The 36 month aged Culatello di Zibello, focaccina and aged balsamic is a case in point and was the perfect opener to our meal, along with the requisite glass of Prosecco. Also to start, the chargrilled sea scallops are prettily presented in shells with a melt-in-the-mouth Parmigiano crumble. The polenta cake may be a little sweet for some, but the taleggio cheese sauce is not to be missed.

 

Chiavarini himself displays a real passion for the produce, and clearly knows his food – as well as knowing a fair few patrons on first name terms. When I dine there with a friend on a weekday evening, there is a mother and son enjoying a meal together, as well as a large Italian family and one chap eating alone quite happily. The combination of a neighbourhood feel and food cooked ‘alla brace’ (over embers) made us feel very snug and spoilt indeed after a long day.

As an institution that has got the basics just right, Pizzicotto is a restaurant that can afford to be a little experimental. The smoking ‘Boccanegra’ charcoal pizza is topped with Fior di latte, ‘nduja, basil salsa and burrata cheese, and is best washed down with Chiavarini’s regional selection of wines, recommended according to your tastes. If we haven’t convinced you already, it’s worth noting that activated charcoal is proven to absorb toxins and – wait for it – may even be able to fight a hangover.

For those of you who just aren’t pizza fans, the squid ink tagliolini with king prawns and cherry tomatoes is another stand-out option.

For afters, we highly recommend a sip or two of the traditional homemade limoncello, and the pistachio gelato is, in Chiavarini’s words, ‘worth more than gold.’ We can’t wait to go back.

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